Pair of French Sevres Porcelain Napoleonic Vases – HUGELY IMPORTANT

Pair of French Sevres Porcelain Napoleonic Vases.

Pair of French Sevres Porcelain Napoleonic Vases


PRESENTING an ABSOLUTELY AMAZING Pair of French Sevres Porcelain Napoleonic Vases from the Late 18th Century or Very Early 19th Century………..circa 1800.

These 2 vases are in the shape of double handled, open or unlidded urns.

They were made by the Sevres porcelain Factory in France circa 1800.

They feature 4 hand-painted scenes.

On one side of each vase you have a different Napoleonic scene, and on the reverse side a painting of a Castle or Chateau.

One Scene depicts Napoleon Bonaparte, the Emperor of France, during his Egyptian Campaign circa 1798.

The other scene depicts Napoleon Bonaparte, the Emperor of France, in Battle in Europe.

The reverse paintings are possibly of Chateau de Turique, Nancy, France from 2 different angles over the Meurthe River.

This would seem to make sense with the provenance of these pieces.

If this is in fact correct….then these would have been pieces specifically commissioned by the owners of Chateau de Tourique from the Sevres Factory to commemorate Napoleon’s famous victories in Egypt and elsewhere.

Both vases sit on squared platform feet with 24ct gold gilding throughout. Both bases have a gilded letter “N” for Napoleon.

Throughout the pieces there are other gilded patterns of laurel wreaths, bees, etc.

The side handles on each vase are in the form of swans and are heavily and beautifully gilded in a flowing motion.

The rim of each vase is edged with gilded bronze mounts…… as are the bases.

The top portion of each vase have the marking for the gilded Imperial Eagle.

One of the Vases is signed….the one with the European Campaign Scene….it appears to be signed “Guy”.

Napoleon Bonaparte], born “Napoleone di Buonaparte” (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the Revolutionary Wars. As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 until 1814, and again in 1815. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. One of the greatest commanders in history, his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. He also remains one of the most celebrated and controversial political figures in human history.

He was born in Corsica to a relatively modest family from the minor nobility. When the Revolution broke out in 1789, Napoleon was serving as an artillery officer in the French army. He quickly capitalized on the new political situation by returning to Corsica in hopes of starting a political career. After that venture failed, he came back to the military and rose rapidly through the ranks, ending up as commander of the Army of Italy after saving the governing Directory by suppressing a revolt from royalist insurgents. At age 26, he began his first military campaign against the Austrians and their Italian allies, scoring a series of decisive victories, conquering the Italian Peninsula in a year, and becoming a national hero. In 1798, he led a military expedition to Egypt that served as a springboard to political power. He engineered a coup in November 1799 and became First Consul of the Republic. His rising ambition inspired him to go further, and in 1804 he became the first Emperor of the French. Intractable differences with the British meant that the French were facing a Third Coalition by 1805. Napoleon shattered this coalition with decisive victories in the Ulm Campaign and a historic triumph over Russia and Austria at the Battle of Austerlitz, which led to the elimination of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1806, the Fourth Coalition took up arms against him because Prussia became worried about growing French influence on the continent. Napoleon quickly knocked out Prussia at the battles of Jena and Auerstedt, then marched the Grand Army deep into Eastern Europe and annihilated the Russians in June 1807 at the Battle of Friedland. France then forced the defeated nations of the Fourth Coalition to sign the Treaties of Tilsit in July 1807, bringing an uneasy peace to the continent. Tilsit signified the high watermark of the French Empire. In 1809, the Austrians challenged the French again during the War of the Fifth Coalition, but Napoleon solidified his grip over Europe after triumphing at the Battle of Wagram in July.

Hoping to extend the Continental System meant to choke off British goods from the European mainland, Napoleon invaded Iberia and declared his brother Joseph the King of Spain in 1808. The Spanish and the Portuguese revolted with British support. The Peninsular War lasted six years, featured extensive guerrilla warfare, and ended in victory for the Allies. The Continental System caused recurring diplomatic conflicts between France and its client states, especially Russia. Unwilling to bear the economic consequences of reduced trade, the Russians routinely violated the Continental System and enticed Napoleon into another war. The French launched a major invasion of Russia in the summer of 1812. The resulting campaign witnessed the collapse of the Grand Army, the destruction of Russian lands and cities, and inspired a renewed push against Napoleon by his enemies. In 1813, Prussia and Austria joined Russian forces in a Sixth Coalition against France. A lengthy military campaign culminated in a large Allied army defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813. The Allies then invaded France and captured Paris in the spring of 1814, forcing Napoleon to abdicate in April. He was exiled to the island of Elba near Rome and the Bourbons were restored to power. However, Napoleon escaped from Elba in February 1815 and took control of France once again. The Allies responded by forming a Seventh Coalition, which defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in June. The British exiled him to the remote island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic, where he spent the remainder of his years. His death in 1821 at the age of 51 was received with surprise, shock, and grief throughout Europe, leaving behind a memory that still persists.

Napoleon had an extensive and powerful influence on the modern world, bringing liberal reforms to the numerous territories that he conquered and controlled, such as the Low Countries, Switzerland, and large parts of modern Italy and Germany. He implemented fundamental liberal policies in France and throughout Western Europe. His legal achievement, the Napoleonic Code, has influenced the legal systems of more than 70 nations around the world. British historian Andrew Roberts stated, “The ideas that underpin our modern world—meritocracy, equality before the law, property rights, religious toleration, modern secular education, sound finances, and so on—were championed, consolidated, codified and geographically extended by Napoleon. To them he added a rational and efficient local administration, an end to rural banditry, the encouragement of science and the arts, the abolition of feudalism and the greatest codification of laws since the fall of the Roman Empire.”

After two months of planning, Bonaparte decided that France’s naval power was not yet strong enough to confront the British Royal Navy. He decided on a military expedition to seize Egypt and thereby undermine Britain’s access to its trade interests in India. Bonaparte wished to establish a French presence in the Middle East, with the ultimate dream of linking with Tipu Sultan, a Muslim enemy of the British in India.

Napoleon assured the Directory that “as soon as he had conquered Egypt, he will establish relations with the Indian princes and, together with them, attack the English in their possessions.”[62] The Directory agreed in order to secure a trade route to India.

In May 1798, Bonaparte was elected a member of the French Academy of Sciences. His Egyptian expedition included a group of 167 scientists, with mathematicians, naturalists, chemists, and geodesists among them. Their discoveries included the Rosetta Stone, and their work was published in the Description de l’Égypte in 1809.

En route to Egypt, Bonaparte reached Malta on 9 June 1798, then controlled by the Knights Hospitaller. Grand Master Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim surrendered after token resistance, and Bonaparte captured an important naval base with the loss of only three men.

General Bonaparte and his expedition eluded pursuit by the Royal Navy and landed at Alexandria on 1 July.[33] He fought the Battle of Shubra Khit against the Mamluks, Egypt’s ruling military caste. This helped the French practice their defensive tactic for the Battle of the Pyramids, fought on 21 July, about 24 km (15 mi) from the pyramids. General Bonaparte’s forces of 25,000 roughly equalled those of the Mamluks’ Egyptian cavalry. Twenty-nine French and approximately 2,000 Egyptians were killed. The victory boosted the morale of the French army.

On 1 August, the British fleet under Horatio Nelson captured or destroyed all but two French vessels in the Battle of the Nile, defeating Bonaparte’s goal to strengthen the French position in the Mediterranean. His army had succeeded in a temporary increase of French power in Egypt, though it faced repeated uprisings. In early 1799, he moved an army into the Ottoman province of Damascus (Syria and Galilee). Bonaparte led these 13,000 French soldiers in the conquest of the coastal towns of Arish, Gaza, Jaffa, and Haifa.[70] The attack on Jaffa was particularly brutal. Bonaparte discovered that many of the defenders were former prisoners of war, ostensibly on parole, so he ordered the garrison and 1,400 prisoners to be executed by bayonet or drowning to save bullets.[68] Men, women, and children were robbed and murdered for three days.

Bonaparte began with an army of 13,000 men; 1,500 were reported missing, 1,200 died in combat, and thousands perished from disease—mostly bubonic plague. He failed to reduce the fortress of Acre, so he marched his army back to Egypt in May. To speed up the retreat, Bonaparte ordered plague-stricken men to be poisoned with opium; the number who died remains disputed, ranging from a low of 30 to a high of 580. He also brought out 1,000 wounded men  Back in Egypt on 25 July, Bonaparte defeated an Ottoman amphibious invasion at Abukir.


Nancy (French pronunciation: [nɑ̃.si]; German: Nanzig) is the capital of the north-eastern French department of Meurthe-et-Moselle, and formerly the capital of the Duchy of Lorraine, and then the French province of the same name. The metropolitan area of Nancy had a population of 410,509 inhabitants at the 1999 census, 103,602 of whom lived in the city of Nancy proper (105,067 inhabitants in the city proper as of 2012 estimates).

The motto of the city is Non inultus premor, Latin for “I’m not touched with impunity”—a reference to the thistle, which is a symbol of Lorraine.

Place Stanislas, a large square built between March 1752 and November 1755 by Stanislaus I of Poland to link the medieval old town of Nancy and the new town built under Charles III in the 17th century, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The earliest signs of human settlement in the area date back to 800 BC. Early settlers were likely attracted by easily mined iron ore and a ford in the Meurthe River. A small fortified town named Nanciacum (Nancy) was built by Gérard, Duke of Lorraine around 1050.

Nancy was burned in 1218 at the end of the War of Succession of Champagne, and conquered by Emperor Frederick II, then rebuilt in stone over the next few centuries as it grew in importance as the capital of the Duchy of Lorraine. Duke Charles the Bold of Burgundy, was defeated and killed in the Battle of Nancy in 1477, René II, Duke of Lorraine became the ruler.

Following the failure of both Emperor Joseph I and Emperor Charles VI to produce a son and heir, the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713 left the throne to the latter’s yet unborn daughter, Maria Theresa of Austria. In 1736 Emperor Charles arranged her marriage to Duke François of Lorraine, who reluctantly agreed to exchange his ancestral lands for the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Exiled Polish king Stanisław Leszczyński, father-in-law of French king Louis XV, was given the vacant duchy instead. Under his nominal rule, Nancy experienced growth and a flowering of Baroque culture and architecture. With his death in 1766, the duchy became a regular French province and Nancy lost its position as a residential capital city with its own princely court and patronage.

As unrest surfaced within the French armed forces during the French Revolution, a full-scale mutiny took place in Nancy in later summer of 1790 known as the Nancy affair. A few reliable units laid siege to the town and shot or imprisoned the mutineers.

In 1871, Nancy remained French when Prussia annexed Alsace-Lorraine. The flow of refugees reaching Nancy doubled its population in three decades. Artistic, academic, financial and industrial excellence flourished, establishing what is still the Capital of Lorraine’s trademark to this day.

Nancy was freed from Nazi Germany by the U.S. Third Army in September 1944, during the Lorraine Campaign of World War II at the Battle of Nancy (1944)).

In 1988, Pope John Paul II visited Nancy. In 2005, French President Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Polish President Aleksander Kwaśniewski inaugurated the renovated Place Stanislas.

Nancy is situated on the left bank of the river Meurthe, about 10 km upstream from its confluence with the Moselle. The Marne–Rhine Canal runs through the city, parallel to the Meurthe. Nancy is surrounded by hills that are about 150 m higher than the city center, which is situated at 200 m amsl. The area of Nancy proper is relatively small: 15 km2. Its built-up area is continuous with those of its adjacent suburbs. The neighboring communes of Nancy are: Jarville-la-Malgrange, Laxou, Malzéville, Maxéville, Saint-Max, Tomblaine, Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy and Villers-lès-Nancy.

The oldest part of Nancy is the quarter Vieille Ville – Léopold, which contains the 14th century Porte de la Craffe, the Palace of the Dukes of Lorraine, the Porte Désilles and the 19th century St-Epvre basilica. Adjacent to its south is the quarter Charles III – Centre Ville, which is the 16th–18th century “new town”. This quarter contains the famous Place Stanislas, the Nancy Cathedral, the Opéra national de Lorraine and the main railway station.


“The vast and diverse production of the Sèvres factory in the nineteenth century resists easy characterization, and its history during this period reflects many of the changes affecting French society in the years between 1800 and 1900. Among the remarkable accomplishments of the factory was the ability to staycontinuously in the forefront of European ceramic production despite the myriad changes in technology, taste, and patronage that occurred during this tumultuous century.

The factory, which had been founded in the town of Vincennes in 1740 and then reestablished in larger quarters at Sèvres in 1756, became the preeminent porcelain manufacturer in Europe in the second half of the eighteenth century. Louis XV had been an early investor in the fledgling ceramic enterprise and became itssole owner in 1759. However, due to the upheavals of the French Revolution, its financial position at the beginning of the nineteenth century was extremely precarious. No longer a royal enterprise, the factory also had lost much of its clientele, and its funding reflected the ruinous state of the French economy.

However, the appointment in 1800 of Alexandre Brongniart (1770–1847) as the administrator of the factory marked a profound shift in its fortunes. Trained as both an engineer and a scientist, Brongniart was both brilliant and immensely capable, and he brought all of his prodigious talents to the running of the troubled porcelain factory. He directed the Sèvres factory as administrator until his death in 1847, and during those five decades influenced every aspect of its organization and production. Much of the factory’s old, undecorated stock was immediately sold off, and new forms—largely in the fashionable, more severe Neoclassical style—were designed to replace out-of-date models. The composition for hard-paste porcelain was improved, and the production of soft paste, for which the factory had been famous in the previous century, was abandoned in 1804. New enamels colors were devised, and Brongniart oversaw the development of a new type of kiln that was both more efficient and cost-effective.

Much of the factory’s output during Brongniart’s first decade reflected the prevailing Empire taste, which favored extensive gilding, rich border designs, and elaborate figural scenes. Backgrounds simulating marble or a variety of hardstones were employed with greater frequency , the new range of enamel colors developed under Brongniart made it easier to achieve these imitation surfaces, and it is thought that his interest in mineralogy provided the impetus for this type of decoration.

For objects produced in sets, such as dinner, tea, and coffee services, and even garnitures of vases, Brongniart preferred decorative schemes that linked the objects in terms of subject matter as well as stylistically. Dinner services were given coherence by the use of an overall theme, in addition to shared border patterns and ground colors. One of the best examples of this can be found in the “Service des Départements,” which was conceived by Brongniart in 1824. Each of the plates in the service was decorated with a famous topographical view of the département (administrative unit) of France that it represented, and its border was painted with small cameo portraits of figures from the region, as well as symbols of the major arts, industries, and products of the area. This same type of thematic unity is found on a coffee service produced in 1836 (1986.281.1ab-4). All of the pieces of the service are decorated with scenes depicting the cultivation of cacao, from which chocolate is made, or various stages in the preparation of chocolate as a beverage. The compositions were conceived and executed by Jean-Charles Develly, a painter at Sèvres who was responsible for many of the most ambitious dinner services produced at the factory during Brongniart’s tenure.

The range of objects produced in the first half of the nineteenth century was enormous, as were the types of decoration that they employed. A recent exhibition catalogue devoted to Brongniart’s years at Sèvres indicates that ninety-two new designs for vases were introduced, as were eighty-nine different cup models, and the types of objects produced by the factory included every sort of form required by a dinner or dessert service, coffee and tea wares, decorative objects such as vases, and functional objects such as water jugs, basins, and toiletry articles. A new form rarely replaced an older one; the range of production simply increased.

The same was true with types of decoration, as the factory was working in a wide variety of styles at any given time. From the earliest years of the Sèvres factory, its painters had copied not only contemporary compositions but also prints and paintings from earlier periods. However, under Brongniart, the factory sought to copy famous paintings with the specific intention of recording the “true” appearance of works increasingly perceived to be fragile. Works by a wide variety of artists were copied, but those by Raphael were especially popular. Raphael’s stature is reflected in a vase of 1834 in which a cameo-style portrait of the artist decorates the primary reserve, while on the back an artist’s palette is encircled by the names TitianPoussin, , and Rubens.

Just as works by earlier artists were copied, so too were decorative techniques of previous centuries. The interlace patterns of so-called Saint-Porchaire ceramic ware of the sixteenth century served as the inspiration for the decoration on a cup of 1837. The form of the cup itself derives from Renaissance silver forms made in Italy and France. However, the palette of vibrant reds, greens, blues, and yellows contrasts markedly with the muted browns and off whites of Saint-Porchaire wares and reflects the reinterpretation of historical styles that was characteristic of so much of nineteenth-century decorative arts.

Interest in the Gothic style emerged early in Brongniart’s tenure at Sèvres and remained popular for much of the nineteenth century. Strict adherence to Gothic motifs was rarely observed, however, and the Gothic style was more evoked than faithfully copied. This tendency is reflected in a pair of vases.

) for which the model was designated “Vase Gothique Fragonard” (named after the vase’s designer, Alexandre Evariste Fragonard (1780–1850). The Gothic elements lie more in the painted decoration than in the form itself, and the style of the painting reflects a Renaissance technique rather than a medieval one. The palette of grays and whites on a blue ground instantly recalls the enamel-on-copper wares produced in Limoges, France, in the sixteenth century, and its use on these vases indicates the willingness to freely mix artistic styles and techniques of different periods in order to achieve new aesthetic effects.

The eclecticism and historicism that characterized so much of the production during Brongniart’s tenure continued after his death in 1847. The factory’s output reflected an ongoing desire for technical innovation as well as a wide embrace of diverse decorative styles that were employed simultaneously. A tea and coffee service of 1855–61 embodies the selective borrowing of forms and motifs that is found so frequently in Sèvres production of the middle decades of the nineteenth century. The shapes used for the different components of the service evoke both China and the Near East, an obvious allusion to the origins of the two beverages. The openwork decoration refers directly to Chinese ceramics made in this technique, and the decoration employs a variety of Chinese emblems. However, the palette of pink and gold, entirely European in character, serves to neutralize the Asian aspects of the service.

Perhaps the only thread that can be said to run through much Sèvres production of the nineteenth century is the proclivity to borrow freely from various historical styles and then to either reinterpret these styles or combine them in unprecedented ways. A standing cup of 1879  draws upon silver cups of the Renaissance for its form, but in this instance the size of the porcelain cup dwarfs any of its metal prototypes. Its style of decoration derives from Limoges painted enamels of the sixteenth century, but the prominent use of gilding throughout reflects its wholly nineteenth-century character. This cup was presented by the French government to one of the first-prize winners at the 1878 Exposition Universelle.

It was with the advent of the Art Nouveau style at the very end of the nineteenth century that historicism lost its grip at Sèvres, and indeed throughout the decorative arts, and forms inspired by nature and often characterized by asymmetry become dominant. This reliance upon natural forms is fully evident in a coffee service of 1900–1904. The designer, Léon Kann, employed the form of the fennel plant, which appears to encase the functional component of each part of the service. A sense of realism is heightened by the application of the enamel colors to the unglazed porcelain, which results in a matte surface similar to that of the fennel plant itself. The entire conception of the service represents an exploration of the boundaries of the ceramic medium itself, which will be one of the defining characteristics of ceramic production in the twentieth century.

Jeffrey Munger
Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

October 2004″



They were purchased by a Member of the Obenchain-McMillan Family from a French Antique Auction held at the Club Room in the Stoneligh Hotel, Dallas on Wednesday the 2nd April 1930. (Now The Meridian Hotel).

We have the Original Auction Catalog which has remained with the Vases since they were acquired at that Auction (along with other pieces in the Calvert Hall-Obenchain Collection on our Site).

The Auction was titled: ” Works of Art and Furnishings of The Chateau de Turique (Nancy) and The Conde-Rougemont Home (Touraine). The cover of the Catalog also has a seal of a Coat of Arms.

The first page of the Catalog States: “Exhibition on Wednesday, April 2nd And Following Days From 10 A.M. to 10 P.M……EXHIBITION at CLUB ROM, STONELIGH COURT, DALLAS, TEXAS”.

The Second page gives a brief description of the Auction contents and states that ” This Exhibition will be presented by M. Fernand M. Adda of Paris France”

The Vases appear at Lot No. 598 and are described as ” TWO BEAUTIFUL VASES – XVIII CENTURY. Sevres Porcelain. Oviform body of gilded deep green enriched with Napoleon battle scenes. Mounted in bronze with mouldings. Handles and shaped foot.”

The price is noted on the side of the Catalog and a SUBSTANTIAL sum for 1930 was paid for these Vases.

Pair of French Sevres Porcelain Napoleonic Vases – HUGELY IMPORTANT.



Pair of French Sevres Porcelain Napoleonic Vases.

Dimensions: Each Vase is 18″ Tall, 10″ Wide and 7″ in diameter at the rim.

The Bases are 5.5″ x 5.5″(squared).

Condition is MINT or MUSEUM QUALITY.






























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